With the recent announcement that LinkedIn has been sold to Microsoft, it got me thinking about the business use of LinkedIn versus a CRM system. There are those that love LinkedIn and use it all the time to expand their networks and connect with people they've met or want to meet; and there are those who aren't on it at all. In the middle, of course, are the individuals who are occasional users, but don't necessarily keep their profiles updated at all times. Consequently, while LinkedIn is a great resource and networking platform, the data isn’t always accurate.
Trusted and accurate data in the context of relationship management is as important as ever, especially as the competitive global legal work landscape heats up. With a growing need for law firms to ‘extreme target’, business development teams are often challenged to identify which relationships to really focus on and take forward. Additionally, a lawyer's ability to make an informed and relevant decision to pursue a client or prospect may be based on the relationship and previous engagement intelligence that the lawyer has to hand – at that point in time.
When researching a client, lawyers have many options: they can contact their library, perform a Google search, go to the prospect’s website, review blogs, and so on. All of these data sources can provide valuable insight. LinkedIn is another source that gets used and with its recent sale to Microsoft, there’s clear value in the platform and the data held within it. But, in the context of a professional services organisation where reputation and experience is key, does it deliver the same benefits and accuracy of data that a CRM system does? With many of LinkedIn’s 433 million users not updating their profiles regularly, can lawyers and business development professionals be sure that they have the contact’s latest employment details? And even if they do, is it possible to see the entire firm’s previous engagements with this contact or organisation without patching the information from multiple sources?
Targeted business development demands intelligence that highlights engagement with a contact at varying levels of detail – from information on how the firm is connected with an individual through to the depth and breadth of the relationship across the firm. A CRM system is required for true relationship intelligence to help the business development team devise initiatives that deliver the best possible results, i.e. the firm’s win/loss rates in industry sectors, most profitable price levels for different types of work, the strength of contacts, etc. Having that information at the fingertips of lawyers and business development teams is powerful.
At the same time, LinkedIn is a great platform for establishing connections on an individual level and perhaps visibility of common connections between contacts. Recognising the value of LinkedIn, advanced CRM solutions integrate with the platform so that contact information can be centrally assimilated for intelligence in the system. One such offering is InterAction Snapshot, which enhances a user’s experience by extending visibility of relationship data into research workflows when browsing blogs, websites and social media sites in Google Chrome. To illustrate, an InterAction user can be searching for ‘CEO of corporate X’. If that contact or corporate X is listed within the firm’s InterAction system, the InterAction icon in Google Chrome presents the existing firm wide intelligence collected to date of the individual and/or their organisation within the browser itself for convenient reference.
It’s a nifty little tool and free! If you are interested in learning more, please contact me. I’d love to demonstrate it to you.